Increased passenger numbers, higher white fish landings, lower oil prices and refit programmes were among factors contributing to mixed fortunes for Lerwick Harbour in the first quarter of this year.
Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “We forecast in 2008 that, due to specific circumstances in particular sectors and the general economic climate, there would be slower growth in traffic this year, and the statistics are in line with our projections. However, backed by our investment and development programme, our outlook for the longer term remains positive.”
The number of vessel arrivals was down 4.6% across various areas of activity at 1,293, compared to the same period in 2008, with the overall tonnage down 9.9% at 1.9 million gross tonnes, due mainly to the NorthLink ferries being away for dry-docking this year.
With more large diving support and construction vessels using the deep-water port, the tonnage of oil-related shipping rose 10% to 360,643 gross tonnes. However, the reduction in offshore industry activity was seen in a 24% drop in oil-related cargo at the port where the total of all cargoes handled was down 15.7% at 200,960 tonnes.
Despite the reduced ferry services over almost six weeks, passenger traffic increased by 6.6% to 17,372. Lerwick’s busy cruise ship season gets underway next month, with 49 vessels scheduled and around 26,000 passengers expected over five months.
Fish landings totalled 27,836 tonnes, valued at £27.5 million, down 50% on volume, with a 0.6% increase in value. The volume reflects a drop in blue whiting landed for fishmeal. With reduced quota available, a larger proportion of this fishery is landed for human consumption.
White fish at 3,196 tonnes, was valued at £4.7 million, up 1.5 % on volume and up 1% on value. The price per tonne showed a small decrease of 0.46% to average £1,494 per tonne. In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings were down in volume and up in value, while there were no industrial fish landings at Heogan, Bressay during the period.